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UCMP Alums honored at GSA


Two UCMP alums received high honors at the Geological Society of America (GSA) annual meeting in Seattle in October.

Caroline Strömberg in the field Sterling Nesbitt and Isabel Montanez
Caroline Strömberg in the field; photo courtesy of Caroline Strömberg. Sterling Nesbitt with GSA President Isabel Montañez; photo courtesy of the Geological Society of America.

Caroline Strömberg (PhD, Integrative Biology, 2003), Estella B. Leopold Associate Professor in Biology and Curator of Paleobotany in the Department of Biology at the University of Washington, received the Paleontological Society's Charles Schuchert Award. The award honors a member early in their career whose paleontological work refl ects excellence, quality and promise in the science of paleontology. The Schuchert award is among the most prestigious award an early career paleontologist can receive. We congratulate Caroline on the award which recognizes ground-breaking work on the origin and evolution of the grassland biome.

Sterling Nesbitt (BA, Integrative Biology, 2004), Assistant Professor of Geosciences at Virginia Tech, received the GSA Young Scientist Award (Donath Medal). The Medal is bestowed upon a scientist under the age of 35 for "outstanding achievement in contributing to geologic knowledge through original research that marks a major advance in the Earth sciences." In the citation by Shuhai Xiao, Sterling's prolifi c record in vertebrate paleontology is noted as providing insight on the origin and early evolution of dinosaurs after the Permian-Triassic mass extinction. His accomplishments in dinosaur paleobiology have helped reshaped thinking about macro-evolutionary patterns of diversifi cation, biogeography, disparity, morphology, and convergent evolution.


Sara ElShafie with Anomolocaris fossil Jessica Theodor, Dave Polly and Tom Stidham Lauren Fowler at SVP Poster Session
Katy Estes-Smargiassi, Rob Ross and Lisa White at GSA Poster session Lisa White and students from The Webb Schools Graduate Student Peter Kloess and Triceratops

Top row: Sara ElShafie holding an Anomalocaris fossil on the Burgess Shale field trip during SVP; photo credit Sara ElShafie. Clemens Lab mini-reunion at the Gao Mine site on the SVP field trip to the Paleocene of Alberta. Left to right: SVP meeting organizer and field trip leader Jessica Theodor (U. of Calgary), SVP president Dave Polly (U. of Indiana), and Tom Stidham (IVPP); photo credit Pat Holroyd. Lauren Fowler at the SVP Poster Session; photo credit Lisa White.

Bottom row: Katy Estes-Smargiassi (LACM), Rob Ross (PRI) and Lisa White at the GSA poster session; photo credit Lisa White. Lisa with high school students from the Alf Museum of Paleontology/The Webb Schools at their SVP poster; photo credit Gabe Santos. Graduate student Peter Kloess and Triceratops at the Royal Terrell Museum of Paleontology in Drumheller; photo credit Lisa White.


Current UCMP students, staff, and faculty were also a very visible presence at the annual GSA meeting in Seattle. Members of the Finnegan Lab (Seth Finnegan, Adiël Klompmaker, Larry Taylor, Emily Orzechowski, Sara Kahanamoku- Snelling, and Josh Zimmt) and the Looy Lab (Cindy Looy, Ivo Duijnstee, and Jeff Benca) presented during the 4-day conference. Lisa White and her collaborators previewed the Kettleman Hills Virtual Field Experience (VFE) modules and Seth Finnegan, Pat Holroyd and Charles Marshall further highlighted progress in the EPICC project during a session on museums in the 21st century co-chaired by Lisa, Caroline Strömberg, Greg Wilson, and Liz Nesbitt. Project Scientist Jessica Bean impressed audiences with previews of the Understanding Global Change conceptual framework and integrated instructional approaches with partners from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). Students presenting at GSA, SVP and other professional conferences were partially supported by UCMP travel grants made possible by the generosity of UCMP donors.


At the 77th Society for Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) annual meeting in Calgary, UCMP participants (Pat Holroyd, Ash Poust, Sara ElShafie, and Lauren Fowler) reported on a range of topics from radiographic and histological examinations of how mammals grow to CT studies of how lizard regrow their tails to new isotopic records of climate change. On the outreach front, Lisa White demonstrated how research in past animal dispersal could be taught using an Earth-systems approach to engage diverse audiences.